|Aimal Marjan Director of Information Technology of MoCIT
Director of Information Technology of the Ministry of Communication & Information Technology
If you reach into your pocket or purse, you will likely find a huge benefit of Lateral Entry Program (LEP) and its successor, Management Capacity Program (MCP), known to a few outside of government. The benefit is a cell phone. More people have them here, on a per capita basis, than in India, a country today synonymous with technology.
More than anyone else, an unassuming, quiet engineer turned to a responsible policymaker. Few know Aimal Marjan, Director of Information Technology of the Ministry of Communication & Information Technology. If you consider the socio economic impact of the policy he authored, maybe it’s time to praise his performance.
Afghanistan’s forward-looking telecommunications policy, regulatory regime, and legislation have provided a cornerstone of a competitive market which has led to Foreign Direct Investment of 1.3 billion USD. In year 1387, the telecom sector has contributed revenue of 100 million USD to the total government revenue. What has been the impact of the investment on an every day basis? Consider that:
Cell phone subscribers increased from 15,000 in 2002 to 8 million in 2008, for a market penetration of 32 percent of the population.
Some 2,576 telecom base stations make possible telecom services in more than 250 cities, towns and populated areas, providing coverage to 75 percent of the population.
Costs for local call prices have decreased from USD 0.30 in 2002 to USD 0.02 in December 2007.
International call prices have dropped from USD 1.80 in 2002 to USD 0.20 cents in December 2007.
SIM prices have declined from USD 300.00 in 2002 to one dollar with pre loaded air time worth one dollar in December 2007.
In short, the combination of policy, regulatory framework and legislation, leading to investment has created a modern telecommunications infrastructure. Mr. Marjan is here for his own reasons which make a story worth telling. And, he’s not alone. He’s one of current line managers among the Management Capacity Program MCP appointees, recruited for ministries through MCP which is quietly succeeding in bringing ‘home’ professionals like Marjan from Pakistan, from Iran, from Europe, America and Australia.
The idea is that professionals, with skills, values and standards, given authority to act and implement policy, can affect change/reform when placed in senior positions and given line manager authority to act. Marjan is the proof that the program works.
What’s coming next? Mr. Marjan knows not just from his position as policymaker but because he’s an engineer who teaches tech subjects. He actually established the computer department at Islamic University for Science and Technology (IUST), Jalalabad, and is currently a visiting faculty member at Kabul University.
Please don’t worry that this topic is too much of a ‘techno reach’. Mr. Marjan is animated, articulate, and able to make ‘techno sense’ in a few words. He’s an Afghan, a self-made man with a success story worth telling. And, he’s representative of a program that is successful to a large extend in supporting to effect change but is hidden from view. We need a few, ‘every day heroes,’ don’t we?